Decorating a coffee table seems like an easy task, but in reality it can be quite difficult. Coffee tables are the centerpiece of any living room and usually need to be styled with unique accessories that complement your style and home decor. Which is where these ideas and tips on how to decorate a coffee table come in handy.
A coffee table is the centerpiece of any living room, but it can be a challenge to decorate.
It’s hard to know what to put on your coffee table, how many accessories you should use and how to arrange them so they look good.
All while finding ways to decorate it that make it look unique.
To help get your creative juices flowing, I’m sharing my favorite coffee table styling ideas and tips.
Even better? You don’t need a big budget to make these work.
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1 | Match your sofa
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If you want to make sure that your coffee table blends with the rest of your living room decor, try pulling the colors and textures from your sofa onto the table.
Yvonne at Stone Gable does this to perfection.
The blue, white and beige color palette of the planter, candle and book covers match her sofa pillows perfectly. The beads echo the balls on the center cushion. And the round glass topped table reinforces the circular pattern in the outer cushions.
If you want to keep it really simple, just pick up a few vases in colors that match your sofa cushions. Arrange them on your table and your done.
2 | Add natural elements
Adding natural elements to your decor is an easy way to give your living room life.
Flowers and plants are an obvious way to do this.
However if you want something organic for your coffee table focal point but don’t have a green thumb, moss balls are an alternative.
Their shape, texture, and bright color make for a fun but also modern coffee table decor idea.
Plus, their low height allows people to see each other across the table, so your conversation area isn’t disrupted.
Another option for those of us that are not so good at growing house plants is a faux potted plant (like Bethany from Kiss Me Darling).
They won’t spill any dirt or water, and don’t require any sunlight. Just don’t forget to dust it from time to time or your plant will be a dead giveaway as a green imposter.
3 | Unify with trays
Trays are a blessing when it comes to coffee table styling.
They automatically create a grouping of whatever decorative objects you put in them, and make them all look like they belongs together.
Any coffee table decor with a tray will look more organized, such as this acrylic tray that The Joyful Home uses. In this case, the simple tray creates a cohesive look without detracting from the color of the coral and potted plant.
A shallow bowl can also serve the same purpose. Especially if you are using decorative objects that are round and would otherwise be hard to contain.
4 | Or use baskets
Large baskets with a flat base are very handy for keeping everything together, and work well as a tray alternative.
Compared to a tray, they will provide more texture to the table if that is an element you are missing.
The way Janet at Shabbyfufu decorated her basket with a Perrier bottle and tropical plant cutting brings a cool and boho aesthetic to the room.
5 | Add something reflective
Being a bit of a glam lover, reflective surfaces are one of my go-to decorating accessories.
The whole top of my black and white coffee table is reflective!
However, you don’t have to go to that extreme to make this decorating idea work for you.
Adding something small like the paperweight in this picture from At Charlotte’s House can be just as effective.
When the light shines on it, the green glass makes the table sparkle and draws your eye,
6 | Vary textures and shapes
Another way to add visual interest when you’re styling your coffee table is to vary the textures and shapes of your accessories.
You can do this by combining glass with wood and metal. Or by including square, round and pointed shapes.
Abby at Twist Me Pretty used decorative pieces with both interesting textures and shapes to make her coffee table design.
You are sure to find all sorts of unique shapes and sizes with a quick trip to a HomeGoods store or a local second-hand shop.
7 | Create a triangle
To keep your table from looking monotonous, you’ll want to vary the height of your accessories.
But how do you make sure it looks good? Create a triangle shape with the outside edges of your vignette.
At Halfway Wholeistic, they created an asymmetrical triangle with the shortest decor on the left side working up to the tallest pieces on the right side.
Alma at Almafied has a more symmetrical triangle, with the tallest point in the middle of the grouping.
Either way will create visual interest that is pleasing to the eye.
8 | Use books
Books are a classic for decorating a coffee table. Which is why you’ll see them in almost every picture!
If you’re creating a triangle and your accessories aren’t tall enough, they’re the perfect way to add some height.
Or you can get them to match your decor by looking for book covers that compliment your living room color.
At Lark and Linen (above), they removed the cover flaps to get a simpler, clean-looking book.
If you don’t already own books that are the right color, you can find really inexpensive ones at the Goodwill or thrift stores.
Or create your own book covers out of wallpaper or wrapping paper. Then you can get the exact color and pattern you want.
9 | Decorate in groups of three
To make your coffee table decor look balanced, use one of the standard interior design principles and decorate with odd numbers of accessories.
Groups of three are the easiest to use since they always create a triangle, especially if you vary the heights.
If you just can’t narrow down your collection to only three things, try using three trays, with three things on each one (like Lauren at Vandi Fair).
Your eye will see each tray as one item and it will still look balanced.
10 | Unify with color
A simple way to make sure your coffee table decor looks cohesive is to use the same colors for all of your accessories.
Ann at On Sutton Place has a wonderful example of this by using white as the main color for the lantern, urn and tray. And then matching the pastels of the Easter eggs with the book covers.
11 | Create a grid
If your coffee table is square and you’re having trouble deciding how to decorate it, try creating a grid.
Then decorate each section in the grid with its own little vignette.
This can mean splitting the table into quarters, such as the glass coffee table above decorated by Natalie from natalieyerger.com.
Or decorating it in three sections like this table from Lynlee at Gal About Town.
Add stacked books, candles, baskets or glass vases, decorative boxes, flowers or even a geode to create an interesting overall look.
The geometric design will help pull it all together.
12 | Setup a symmetrical layout
For rectangular or oval tables, a symmetrical layout can help to make the table feel balanced.
To do this, create one larger grouping in the center of the table.
Then add a smaller group of accessories on either side that are similar in size and weight.
Camille Styles uses a textured knot as a paperweight for her books that acts as a central focal point. The candles on either side balance out the ends.
For a more dramatic take on the same approach, use larger vignettes on the ends of the table with a small accessory in the middle, like Dani Austin did in her living room.
13 | Or keep it simple
Sometimes your table doesn’t need a whole lot of decoration.
When I have my favorite blue Hydrangeas in one of my favorite ginger jars, I often let them have the whole coffee table to themselves.
Adding anything else just seems to detract from their beauty.
14 | Create a picture display
If you like to display pictures and have a lot of them, then this coffee table photo display from Casey at The DIY Playbook is a great idea.
She used a large, wooden dough bowl as her table focal point.
Then filled it with photos that are easy to look through while relaxing on the couch. An instant conversation starter!
15 | Show your personality
Last but not least, don’t forget to show your personality!
If you love glam gold and purple, use it on your coffee table (like this eye catching design from Edit by Lauren).
If you love more minimal natural elements, then do that (like Cat at Pocket of Posies).
I hope you feel inspired after reading this list of coffee table decorating tips. And remember to have fun with it!
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This post was originally published on May 12, 2021 but was updated with new content on May 9, 2023.